Introduction to Back Pain
Back pain is a very common problem that develops gradually over time and affects most people at some point.
What is Back Pain?
Back pain is a very common problem that develops gradually over time and affects most people at some point, roughly nine out of ten adults. In most cases, the condition will improve over weeks or months, although the pain may persist for some people in some cases.
Anatomically, back pain is classified according to different segmental levels of the spine – neck pain (cervical), middle back pain (thoracic), lower back pain (lumbar) and coccydynia (tail bone or sacral). The most common pain is found at lumbar vertebrae area.
What is Back Pain caused by?
Bones, muscles, nerves and joints make up your back. Back pain is usually caused by everyday activities like lifting heavy objects, overstretching, straining muscles while doing sports, slouching in chairs, or having a poor posture.
There are a few contributing factors which increase the risk of getting back pain – being overweight, smoking, being stressed and bone-weakening medications.
Back pain can also be caused by an injury, especially to the spinal cord. Problems with spine’s discs degenerating or growing thinner (herniated disc) can also lead to back pain. Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve which runs from the pelvis down the legs results in sciatica, bringing about pain from the lower back down the legs.
What are the symptoms of Back Pain?
A person with back pain may experience piercing pain or burning sensation, which may radiate into arms and legs. Numbness and weakness may also be felt around the arms and legs.
How is Back Pain treated?
Treatment depends on the severity and individual preferences.
Short-term back pain can be treated in a number of ways, like using hot and cold compression packs alternatively at the affected areas. You can also try changing your sleeping position to take some of the strain off your back. Painkillers can be taken if the pain is unbearable. Regular exercise is shown to help relieve back pain. Pick an activity that you enjoy doing so that you can benefit while having fun. A good posture can also help to prevent back pain.
People with back pain lasting more than six weeks (chronic back pain) will have to undergo manual therapy carried out by chiropractors. Surgery is usually the last resort as they are not always successful and have potentially serious complications and risks.
If back pain is coupled with other symptoms like high fever, unexplained weight loss, inability to pass urine or swelling in your back, you should seek immediate medical help as there may be other serious underlying problems.